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Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2011
Contact: CDC Online Newsroom
(404) 639-3286

ATSDR launches health survey of Marine Corps personnel and civilians

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) begins this week a health survey regarding diseases that may be associated with chemical exposures related to water at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The survey is to go to more than 300,000 people who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune or Camp Pendleton in California before 1986.   Camp Pendleton was chosen for comparison purposes.

The survey will ask people about where they lived and worked at the bases and about their health history. Everyone who receives the survey will have detailed instructions on how to fill it out.

“We hope everyone who receives a survey will complete it. High levels of response will lead to the most accurate findings,” said Christopher J. Portier, Ph.D., director of ATSDR and the National Center for Environmental Health at ATSDR’s sister agency - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The survey aims to provide scientifically useful health information about exposure to contaminants.”

The ATSDR action responds to a congressional mandate that called for ATSDR to develop a health survey that may lead to scientifically useful health information associated with a person’s potential exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.   To gather the most useful and comprehensive health information - and provide context for the results, ATSDR is also asking former residents of Camp Pendleton to complete the survey.

The survey’s results will provide the federal government with information that could guide its next steps in serving Marines, civilian workers, and their families. 

The ATSDR Health Survey of Marine Corps Personnel and Civilians is the largest health survey ATSDR has ever conducted. 

Eligible participants from Camp Lejeune include selected military personnel, civilians, and family members who were there before 1986.  Surveys will also be mailed to those registered with the Marine Corps by June 15, 2011. Also included are former active duty Marines and sailors, and civilian employees who lived or worked at Camp Pendleton before 1986. The survey and instructions for completing and returning it will be mailed to eligible participants during the summer and fall. A Web-based version will be available for those who prefer to answer online.

The survey will be disseminated in five waves, beginning June 23, with some 26,000 receiving mail notification. The next group of nearly 80,000 individuals will be notified in mid-July.  Portier said this process will continue until each person who was identified has received formal notification of the survey and instructions on completion. Completed surveys are due by Dec. 16.

ATSDR hopes that family members and doctors of people who receive surveys will help make sure the surveys are returned. “Health care providers can play an important role in the success of this project by encouraging patients who receive a health survey for Camp Lejeune or Camp Pendleton to complete it,” Portier said.

Dissemination of Findings
ATSDR expects to release findings in early 2014. Each survey participant will receive a summary of the final report.  The survey findings also will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and on the Internet. The data released will be in summary format only and will not identify any individuals.

Editor′s Note: The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, ATSDR, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.It is commonly referred to as CDC’s sister agency. Its mission is to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances.  


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